The highpoint of the High Lake Rim, Indian Spring Butte is part of the headwall that separates the glacial cirques located high in the central Strawberry Mountains. Indian Spring Butte is the third highest point in the Strawberry Range behind Strawberry Mountain itself and Graham Mountain. Although no trail exists to the summit of Indian Spring Butte, it is a short hike with little more than 1000 feet of elevation gain from the High Lake trailhead through an open Alpine Forest. Indian Spring Butte is a great jumping off point for hiking the High Lakes Ridge and its subpeaks. Each of the these easily accessed peaks offers an entirely different view of the glacial basins and the lakes they contain.Below: Indian Spring Butte on the right, seen from the shore of Strawberry Lake in this Bubba Suess image
From John Day travel 9 miles south on Highway 395 to paved County Road 65 on the left. Follow this road approximately 15 miles to its intersection with Malheur National Forest Roads 15 and 16. Take a left heading east towards Logan Valley traveling only 2 miles where you will take a left on USFS road 1640. Follow this road 11 miles to its termination at the High Lake trailhead overlooking the High Lake Basin.
From the parking lot set off due north directly up the ridgeline towards its highpoint which is Indian Spring Butte.
High Lake Rim
Extending east of Indian Spring Butte is the High Lake Rim
. This includes Rabbit Ears, the throat of a miocene volcano heavily worn by glaciation during past ice ages and currently the residence of Mountain Goats. The High Lake Rim seperates High Lake from three other basins each containing at least one lake including Strawberry Lake, Slide Lake and Mud Lake. This rim has five distinct highpoints from west to east; Indian Spring Butte, Rabbit Ears, two points between High Lake and Strawberry Lake, and BM8172 overlooking the Slide and Mud Lakes.
No Parking fee required. Trailhead is located at edge of Strawberry Wilderness where no vehicles or bicycles are allowed.
For the Strawberry Wilderness area there is a pack out what you pack in rule. The best opportunity for Camping lays at High Lake
, a beautiful and remote high elevation lake with fishing potential. High Lake lays at the SE base of Indian Spring Butte in a glacial cirque.
When to Climb
Once the snow clears off the road in late June until it sets back in sometime around October or November. The trailhead is located at over 7000 feet, so expect snow late into spring or early summer.
Eastern Oregon is prone to wildfire and varying weather conditions. Concerns such as weather and fires are HERE
on the Malheur National Forest website.
Lakes of the Glacial Basins
There are seven lakes visible from the High Lake Rim including Strawberry Lake, Little Strawberry Lake, Slide Lake, Little Slide Lake, Mud Lake, Little Mud Lake, and High Lake. The Strawberry and Slide Lakes are accessed from Strawberry Campground at the end of Malheur Forest Road 60 which also serves as the trailhead for Strawberry Mountain. The Mud Lakes are accessed from Malheur Forest Road 021 in the head of Logan Valley. Access to High Lake is from the same parking lot as Indian Spring Butte.
The Rabbit Ears
In Oregon there are many
instances of twin rocks with the name Rabbit Ears. The Rabbit Ears of the Strawberry Mountains reach 8000 feet in elevation and are infested with mountain goats. The base of these rocks is easily reached from the High Lake Trailhead at Road's End with a 2nd class ridge traverse from Indian Spring Butte. The lower eastern Rabbit Ear can be climbed from the saddle between the ears with a mildly exposed scramble. The substantially higher west ear can be climbed on its west face with more exposure and should most likely be approached with a protected rock climb. A fall from either ear would certainly be fatal, especially from the north face. If in the area, the 4th class climb into the saddle between the rabbit ears should be considered, its one of the most magical locations in the Strawberry Mountains.